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Abandon the 2008 water plan

This column completes comparison of the 2008 adopted water master plan versus the 2004 adopted plan that was begun in my Nov. 14 Tidings column. It focused on the foolish and costly pursuit of the oversized and excessively expensive 2008 plan instead of staying with the much less expensive (about $6,914,000 less) and perfectly adequate 2004 plan.

This pursuit has been engaged in by not only the present city council under the egotistical and wrong-headed Mayor John Kovash but also by all previous councils going back to the misguided Mayor Norm King council that took office in January 2005. The utility advisory board (UAB) has also foolishly pursued it during all these years.

I hope this foolish pursuit won’t involve asking voter approval of a one-year 18 percent water rate increase under the lame excuse it’s needed to finance fixing and replacing old waterlines.

We obviously don’t need an 18 percent rate increase because our water fund’s annual revenue has been averaging more than $3 million per year. After paying for water and operating expenses, the large balance should have been used toward fixing our neglected waterlines, but shamefully this wasn’t done.

At present there’s an ending fund balance in the water fund of $1,994,321. After it first covers a $344,000 reserve requirement, the remainder of $1,650,321 should be used to significantly start fixing our neglected waterlines. The same should be done with all subsequent years’ ending fund balances until all the neglected waterlines have been fixed or replaced.

Will the city council, staff and UAB all become responsible and start doing this or will they remain irresponsible and foolishly continue to pursue the 2008 water plan and an 18 percent water rate increase?

Voters should responsibly vote “no” to any ballot measure requesting an 18 percent water rate increase or to any other requests for water rate increases beyond the charter allowed annual 5 percent increase.

It’s been claimed by staff that improvements and replacements of waterlines haven’t happened because (1) city’s water revenue has continually decreased with better water conservation and (2) expenses have steadily increased, including annual hikes from South Fork Water Board for supplying us water.

These claims are very incorrect. Since the beginning of 2005 there have been 10 annual water rate increases of 5 percent each which have much more than offset (1) any decreased revenue due to better water conservation and (2) any expense increases, including small rate increases by South Fork.

Returning to comparison of the 2008 plan versus the 2004 plan, it will cost $21 million to implement the oversized, unnecessary and excessively expensive 2008 plan in contrast to completing the rest of the very adequate and much less expensive ($6,914,255 less) 2004 plan produced during Mayor Dodds’ administration and when 14,630 feet of old waterlines were replaced.

The 2004 plan is very adequate to serve through build out within West Linn’s present boundary, and does so without ever having to raise water rates beyond the charter limitation of 5 percent annually. It also includes replacing all remaining old pipes. It was deliberately designed without the capability of supplying water outside city boundary into the Stafford triangle, as is the case with the 2008 plan.

The extremely overblown 2008 water plan should be abandoned in favor of sensible 2004 plan.

Bob Thomas is a resident of West Linn.




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